Biden Announces Protections for Illegal Immigrants Married to US Citizens

President Joe Biden announced on June 18 that his administration will not deport many illegal immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens.

The government’s new program enables illegal immigrant adults who are married to U.S. citizens to stay in the United States while applying for legal status. Spouses must have lived in the United States for at least 10 years as of June 17.

Approximately 500,000 spouses of U.S. citizens will be shielded from deportation under the program, according to the White House. About 50,000 children who have a parent married to a U.S. citizen will also be protected.

“There’s already a system in place for the people we’re talking about today. But the process is cumbersome, risky and separates families,” President Biden said at a White House event marking the process.

Typically, people who enter the country illegally must leave and obtain legal status before reentering the United States.

“They have to leave their families in America with no assurance that they’ll be allowed back in the United States,” the president said. “So they stay in America, but in the shadows, living in constant fear of deportation without the ability to legally work.”

The new program is a “common sense fix” for the problem, according to the Democrat.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is managing the program.

“This process will achieve family unity, one of our immigration system’s fundamental goals. It will also boost our economy, advance our labor interests, strengthen our foreign relations with key partners in the region, further our public safety interests, and more,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

The announcement was made on the 12th anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a policy implemented under the Obama administration while Joe Biden was vice president.

DACA shields illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation and enables them to legally work in the United States.

As of Sept. 30, 2023, there were 544,690 individuals granted protection under the program.

Illegal immigration has spiked under President Biden, with 2.4 million encounters at the U.S.–Mexico border in 2023 alone. On June 4, President Biden signed an order that suspended asylum requests once the average number of daily encounters with illegal immigrants at the southern border exceeds 2,500. However, during that announcement, he hinted at additional actions that would assist illegal immigrants.

“In the weeks ahead—and I mean the weeks ahead—I will speak to how we can make our immigration system more fair and more just,” he said at the time.

The requirements for the new program mean that it will apply to people who are embedded in communities across the nation. On average, those eligible for the process have resided in the United States for 23 years, according to the White House.

The president also said that his administration is making it easier for illegal immigrants who received protection under DACA, earned a college degree, and received an offer of employment from a U.S. business to obtain work visas.

The announcement quickly drew praise from some, who said the program would be welcome news to those affected.

“An estimated 55,000 immigrants in the Houston area are married to U.S. citizens and many of them will now be able to live, work, and raise a family without the fear of deportation,” Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) said in a statement.

Others decried the move.

Stephen Miller, who was a top adviser on immigration during the Trump administration, described it on social media platform X as “unconstitutional amnesty to illegal aliens.”

Karoline Leavitt, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, said the program was a “mass amnesty” that will lead to an increase in crime and incentivize more illegal immigration.

From The Epoch Times